Swamp People

The phone rang as I was getting ready this morning and I don’t usually answer those with IDs such as “Private Caller,” but I did. And that made all the difference. Alanna Doughty was on the other end of the “line” and wanted me to know that this morning’s Lakes Environmental Association walk to explore the wetland plants at Holt Pond was still a go. She also asked if I wanted to borrow a pair of waders. Indeed, I did.

About 30 minutes later a group of eight had gathered at the preserve parking lot despite the raindrops. A few didn’t learn about the event until they read a description in this week’s Bridgton News, and so though they were prepared with raincoats and bug spray, they didn’t have Bogg boots or waders, but Alanna had brought along a few extra pairs and most made do. One gentleman had large feet and said he didn’t mind getting his sneakers wet. Such was the spirit of the morning.

p-red maple swamp

Without much further ado, we stomped down the trail and then slipped off it, through the woods and directly into the red maple swamp . . .

p-blue flag iris

where raindrops enhanced the dainty leaves of the blue-flag iris. Going off trail offers a certain liberating feeling.

p-pitcher plant

It also offers different species. Our movement was interrupted frequently by our findings, and as we stopped to determine the identification of a shrub that stumped us for a while, another plant drew our attention. Holt Pond is home to many pitcher plants, but this one cast its spell upon us for the curvy flower stems and new urn-shaped leaves. Most often, the stems stand stalwart.

p-pitcher spider

The otherworldly flowers protect friendly pollinators from accidentally being consumed. Unlike the pit trap below, aka the urn-shaped or pitcher leaves, the flowers are friendly and provide bees and other insects with nectar and pollen. This morning a spider wandered within, stepping on fallen anthers.

p-pitcher 4

I’ve forever found it a wonder that the extremely large style sits below the rest of the structure in order to capture pollen in its upside-down umbrella shape.

p-pitcher flower 1

Though those flowers have aged, their leathery sepals remained, fading from red to magenta. Below the sepals the large swollen ovary may house as many as 300 tiny seeds.

p-working our way through the swamp

After a long period of admiration, we finally pulled ourselves away and continued our tramp, finding our way through the swamp. And only briefly did we feel fake lost, but knew that wherever we came out, we’d recognize our position and continue the journey.

p-Great St. Johnswort

Among the sphagnum moss grew Great St. Johnswort not yet in flower.

p-slug

And slugs dined.

p-grasses, sedges and rushes

There were maples of course, and gray birches and speckled alders and royal and cinnamon ferns. But, there were also grasses and sedges and maybe even rushes. When at last we left the swamp and found ourselves on Tire Alley, about where we wanted to be, Alanna shared the ditty that helps us to maybe not name a particular species, but at least to know where to begin: Sedges have edges, rushes are round, grasses have joints all the way to the ground. Of course, she passed around examples so everyone could feel the edges of the sedge and see the joints on the grass.

p-Alanna describing hobbleush flowers

Then she stopped to describe the former flower of hobblebush, and I noticed the bouquet in her hand had expanded–her collection intended for further study later in the day.

p-slime mold on birch

We were about to head from the trail into the quaking bog by Holt Pond when Mary Jewett spied a growth on an old birch tree.

p-slime mold 2

My best guess was a slime mold for it looked like the Son of Blob had arrived. She and I both touched it and the outer coating fell off. It was rather creepy.

p-dark green fritillary caterpillars

At that point, we did a 180˚ turn and started out onto the quaking bog, literally, but a few in the front decided it wasn’t quite what they had bargained for since the water was especially deep. So, Alanna and Mary ventured that way and I joined the rest for a walk on the boardwalk, which was wet as well, but a bit more stable. Along the way, we spotted caterpillars actively consuming spirea leaves. Upon later research, I determined they were dark green fritillary caterpillars that will soon metamorph into those beautiful orange butterflies that we often mistake for monarchs. (Note: I spotted a monarch on milkweed not yet in bloom yesterday)

p-bog rosemary

Among the many plants growing on the quaking bog, the bog rosemary stood out with its bluish gray leaves.

p-bog rosemary 1

Newer leaves formed at the top, giving off a reddish hue and adding to their distinctiveness.

p-bog rosemary 2

The netlike venation on the leaves was also noticeable and though the blooms have passed, the pretty pink fruits hadn’t yet matured into brown capsules.

p-sundew with Mary

Since we’d seen the pitcher plants, Mary wanted to find the sundews that grew near the boardwalk. With the high water as a result of a beaver dam on the Muddy River, it’s been  hard to spot the sundews, but she persevered and located one, showing off its glistening tentacles intended to capture small insects. Should one land on the tiny leaf, the insect’s feet become ensnared in the sticky secretion and the end is eminent. Within mere minutes the tentacles curl around the victim and suck the nutrients out of it.

p-snakeskin 1

Meanwhile, Alanna continued to wander off the boardwalk and suddenly she discovered a shed snake skin. I had intended to join her, but I have to say that though I wore hip waders and my feet and legs were mighty dry, I could feel the bog quake with each step and I didn’t get far. Blame it on my camera, but I didn’t want to risk a fall. And do you know that squelchy sound of pulling a foot out of several inches of mud? That’s how it was when I tried to get back on the boardwalk. It’s not just a few plants that are carnivorous–it’s the entire bog.

p-snake skin 1

Never fear. We all survived and she brought the skin back for us to admire.

p-black chokeberry 1

We stayed on the boardwalk and trail as we finally looped back and still, there was much to see. The shrub that had stumped us when we first spotted the pitcher plant in the red maple swamp suddenly spoke its name and we knew we were looking at the fruits of the black chokeberry. Only a week or two ago we’d admired their flowers.

p-serviceberry 2

And then there was the berry that reminded us of a rose hip, as it should for it was in the rose family.

p-service berry gall?

Its ripening pomes will eventually turn purplish-black. But . . . we spied something we weren’t familiar with at all–do you see the growth on one? It rather reminded me of the Son of Blob slime mold we’d seen earlier and must have been a gall. Nature certainly provides as many questions as answers.

p-Northern Arrowwood

All spring and summer the flowers of the bog change by the week, or so it seems. This week, the Northern arrowwood was showing off its creamy-white blooms.

p-sheep laurel 2

And the sheep laurel, its fuchsia-colored blossoms.

p-bog monster web

For three hours we oohed and aahed and had great fun. We made one last stop before returning to the parking lot for the spirit in the hemlock called out to us–seemingly doing its own oohing and aahing.

Such were the offerings of the preserve this morning. And the people who gathered . . . I only knew Alanna and Mary before we began, but because of our shared experience the group was quite chummy by the time we were ready to depart. That’s what I love about walks such as this where complete strangers become instant friends, even if it’s only in the moment.

Swamp people . . . don’t mind rain or mosquitoes or wet feet. Swamp people . . . get to move where the spirit takes them. Swamp people . . .  find joy and wonder along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Living Celebrates 20th Anniversary: summer 2017

The summer issue of Lake Living is out–and it’s a celebration of the magazine’s 20th anniversary! I’ve had the pleasure of being involved as a writer, copy editor, proofreader and photographer since 2006–or maybe it was 2005. Doesn’t matter how long–every issue has been better than the last and I’ve meet so many interesting people along the way. Congrats to Laurie LaMountain for sticking with it for the past 20 and here’s to 20 more great years of publishing this fine mag.

My contributions for this one include Custom Fit about a collaboration between Lakes Environmental Association and Great Northern Docks, Food for Thought about a used book store in Norway, Maine, and the summer calendar–featuring so many great things to do.

Pour a glass of lemonade and enjoy:

Book of June: The Giant’s Shower

In honor of the summer solstice, here’s a repost of a midsummer’s eve fairy tale I wrote years ago.

wondermyway

Since it’s June and Midsummer’s Eve occurs in June, I thought I’d post this fairy tale I wrote years ago.

fairy home-2

Book of June

Once upon a Midsummer’s Eve, on Sabattus Mountain, a group of fairies gathered in a circle for a night of magic and merriment. All wore crowns of wood sorrel and ferns about their heads. Their sparkly skirts matched the color of their hair, purple and green and yellow and orange and blue. Together they danced and sang this tune:

We whirl and twirl and dance around,                                                                                                     Our feet, they barely touch the ground.        …

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Noyes Mountain Mondate

Yesterday was Father’s Day and so I asked the question first, “Where are we hiking tomorrow?” My intention was that it would be a gift for him to choose. But only moments later I announced that I had a suggestion–he didn’t have to accept it, of course.

I’d learned that the Western Maine Foothills Land Trust had cut a trail at the Noyes Mountain Preserve in preparation for their 30th Anniversary in July. And since one of our recent Maine Master Naturalist grads, Kelly Hodgkins, now works for the land trust and used this mountain for her capstone project, I wanted to visit it.

So much for letting my guy choose. But he appreciated the thought and agreed on our destination. And so mid-morning today, we drove to Greenwood–the birthplace of LL Bean. We honored him well for our hiking pants, boots and bag were all Bean products.

Kelly had told me to follow Richardson Hollow Road for 1.5 miles and then to look for a small parking lot on the left. We located it easily, but parked on the road instead because a few vehicles were in the spot. Apparently we weren’t the only ones eager to make the climb despite the mugginess of the day. We actually met the parties as we headed up and they descended. People and dogs–all sporting smiles.

n-field

A mowed path crossed the field where daisies and buttercups and hawkweed grew among the grasses. We began to develop a sense of the land’s former use, especially as we spied stonewalls through the trees.

n-trail flags

And then we moved into a hardwood forest and the upward climb began. Kelly had warned me that the trail was rough cut, but flagged. And a gentleman on the way down said they’d gotten off track for a bit when they didn’t make a turn because they were looking down and missed the flagging. Thanks to that word of caution, we made sure to always look for the next piece of tape and had nary an issue.

n-striped maple samaras

I looked down as well. That’s where I saw striped maple samaras maturing as they rested upon a leaf,

n-narrow beech fern

a narrow beech fern arched over the ground, with its lowest pinnae unconnected by wings as those above it and drooping downward,

n-common fleabane 2

and common fleabane sending forth cheerful rays of lavender from its composite disk.

n-American toad

I was actually surprised to only meet one young American toad as it seemed a place where the ground should have been hopping with many more.

n-red-belted polypore on red pine

On a red pine snag a red-belted polypore looked a bit old and tired.

n-ledge on trail

And then suddenly, the community changed and we faced a moss-covered ledge where the trail turned to the left.

n-lady's slipper

When the trail widened a bit, we noticed a frame and realized it was meant to protect the lady’s slipper within. And so we bowed and curtseyed in her honor.

n-lady's slipper spider

That’s when we realized we weren’t the only ones paying attention–perhaps the spider wanted to see if the slipper fit.

n-northern crane's-bill 2

Again, we continued to climb, but noted that the community changed again and we were in the land of evergreens and blueberries as we reached for the summit. A flower I wasn’t familiar with kept asking to be noticed–and so I did and later keyed it out to be a northern crane’s-bill.

Then we saw a path not cleared, but with a tag wrapped around a tree limb. And another beyond that. Should we follow it? It looked like it led to the ledges that were supposed to offer a view. We decided to stay on the trail with dangling tape, though as it dipped downward and to the right we questioned our decision–until it swung around to the left and we realized we were possibly looping around. We hoped.

n-lady corporal dragonfly

It was along that section that the corporals joined us, in this case the browner version, which is a female.

n-American emerald 2

And an American emerald dragonfly, with its metallic green eyes and a narrow yellow ring around the base of its abdomen, took time out from hunting duties to pose. Speaking of dragonflies, while we celebrated their presence, we also noted that there were no mosquitoes. A few deer flies sang in our ears. Was it the wind that kept the mosquitoes away? There were certainly wet spots here and there on the mountain.

n-honeysuckle fruit

Our wonders continued with the red fruit of swamp-fly honeysuckle and . . .

n-twinflowers

a sweet patch of twinflowers.

n-my guy at the ledge

And then, about an hour after we’d started, we stepped into a small clearing with a view. Well, you know who got there first and was waiting when I arrived.

n-ledge view

While he looked at Norway Lake (Lake Penneseewassee), I looked around at the plants that grew there as more dragonflies darted about.

n-staghorn sumac

The summit offerings included staghorn sumac and . . .

n-pink corydalis

pink corydalis, plus yellow hawkweed, yarrow and others I can’t remember now.

n-trail to quarry

When we were ready to leave, we noticed more orange flagging and another trail leading down. So . . . we followed it.

n-climbing down to quarry

We could see the ledge above, but weren’t sure what was in store for us next.

n-climing lower to quarry

The rock face was steep and had a certain look to it, as if it had been worked.

n-mountain crane's-bill

Rounding the final corner, we both knew what to expect, but first, another flower. There were many flowers on that spur trail and I knew I had to save them for another day. But this one stood out against the rock face and strongly resembled the northern crane’s-bill I’d spied occasionally on the way up. If my ID is correct, this species is a mountain crane’s-bill.

n-quarry wall

And we were in the Harvard Quarry. According the Western Foothills Land Trust page about the preserve, “Historically the land, which is in Greenwood, was owned by the Stevens family and included a through road north to from Norway to Greenwood (from the Upton Brothers Road to the Hayes Road). In 1869 Ethel Stevens sold the land to Isaac Noyes.

Isaac Noyes became interested in the site’s pegmatitic outcroppings in the late 1880′s. In 1892 the ledge was opened for the first time and became a mecca for scientists and collectors alike, offering one of the most complex mineralized pegmatites in Maine. Mineral operations on the mountain were opened by Isaac’s 6th cousin George Lorenzo (“Shavey”) Noyes and Tim Heath about 1894. Tourmaline was first recorded from the locale about 1904 and over the years the green color found at this location has become known as “Harvard Green.”

The granite pegmatites Noyes collected were largely preserved and passed into the possession of the Harvard Museum, together with the lease of the property, in 1917. In the summer of 1923 active quarrying was undertaken by the Harvard Mineralogical Department under the supervision of Harvard University student Kenneth K. Landes for Landes’ dissertation, Paragenesis of the Granitic Pegmatites of Central Maine (American Mineralogist, 1925, v. 10, p. 355-411). Loren B. Merrill of Paris and Arthur Valley undertook most of the actual excavation for Landes at the site.

Currently Frank Perham owns the 1-acre Harvard quarry, which remains open to the public in addition to mineral rights on 60 acres.”

The site is also mentioned in A Collector’s Guide to Maine Mineral Localities.

n-dyamite box from mining history

It all began to make sense for toward the beginning of the spur we saw a steel box in the woods–perhaps it once held dynamite for the mining operation. And within the quarry were old tires and hoses. All relics that I hope will remain for they tell the story.

n-rock face

And on the rock face, I saw a face of one who will watch over all to make sure those relics never leave. (Unless the land trust thinks otherwise, that is.) Do you see it? There’s an eye with eye lashes, a bulbous nose and an angular chin.

We didn’t stay long because thunder rumbled and we knew strong winds and rain were in the forecast.

As we skidaddled down the mountain, we gave thanks to Kelly for sharing the location with us and for the future programs she’ll plan so others may appreciate this place. And we were grateful to the land trust for working hard to protect the land for now and ever.

Our Mondate on Noyes Mountain came to an end as raindrops the size of lady’s slippers splatted against our windshield. We left, however, knowing this place is well worth a return visit–probably more than one.

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on the Brownfield Bog

When I drove to the Brownfield Bog, aka Major Gregory Sanborn Wildlife Management Area, this afternoon, my intention was to pay attention to the shrubs that grow there.

b-black swallowtail

But, as usual, the distractions were many and a black swallowtail landed as I stepped out of my truck.

b-ant on alder aphid

I did note a tremendous amount of wooly alder aphids coating the alder stems everywhere I walked. In fact, I’ve never seen so much fluff. And I found only one ant eager to milk the sweet honeydew produced by the aphids as they sucked the shrubs sap. Once in a while the white fluff danced in the breeze. Was it an aphid on the fly?

b-willow flowers

Or did it come from the willows that were in the process of sending their seeds forth into the future?

b-Northern Arrowwood

So you see, I was paying attention to the shrubs, especially those in flower like the Northern Arrowwood. There was another with a similar flowerhead, but different leaves and I need to return and spend more time studying it.

b-Pleasant Mountain 2

Because I was in the bog, I did pause occasionally to peer across its advance, usually with a view of my favorite mountain (Pleasant Mountain) providing the background.

b-chalk-fronted corporal 1

But the dragonflies live there. And the chalk-fronted corporals became my BFF, since as many as twenty lifted off with each step I took. They led me all the way down the trail and all the way back, usually a few feet in front.

b-dot-tailed white face 1

The corporals weren’t the only dragons of choice.

b-dot-spotted white face 2

Dot-tailed white face dragonflies were happy to pose.

b-calico pennant 1

And I even found a few calico pennants–happy to make their acquaintance again.

b-white gall on maleberry 2

Between dragon and damselfly opportunities, white globs and . . .

b-maleberry gall?1

green caught my attention. They were the size of apples and totally new to me. My thought right now is that they are galls, similar to the azalea gall, but these were on maleberry shrubs. If you know otherwise, I welcome your information.

b-bog view

The bog was swollen with water only a few weeks ago, but that story line has passed and life sprang from the spring like a fountain of youth.

b-damsel love 1

My noticing continued when I spied a couple of youthful damselflies . . .

b-damsel love 2

he’d attached himself below her . . .

b-damsel love 3

and ever so slowly advanced . . .

b-damsel love 4

until the circle of love was complete.

b-lady beetles canoodling

Canoodling of all kinds occurred.

b-dragonflies canoodling 2

Even the dragonflies tried to get in on the action.

b-dragonflies canoodling

She wasn’t very tolerant, however, and a couple of seconds later detached herself from her forward position and took off.

b-sedge sprite 1

I moved on, looking here and there and thrilling at the sight of the beautiful and iridescent sedge sprite damselfly.

b-river jewelwing

Following the trail to the Saco River, I found tracks galore in the muck below, and a river jewelwing–appropriately named.

b-Canada geese

As I headed out, I startled a Canada goose family that had been feeding along the edge.

b-ring necked and mountain

And then I paused for one last look at the bog and Pleasant Mountain.

b-ring-necked duck

That’s when I realized I was in the presence of a male ring-necked duck. If you like to bird, this is the place. I saw several but heard so many more. And even if I couldn’t apply a name to a song, I did enjoy the symphony that followed me throughout my adventure.

b-Kathy's bog sign

Though I said I went to look at the shrubs because I do want to learn them, my real reason for going was to see this new installment.

b-Kathy's sign up close

Maine Master Naturalist (and potter) Kathy McGreavy created this handmade and painted map of the bog for her capstone project. Her husband recently installed it and it’s a work of art worth looking at not only to appreciate Kathy’s talent, but also to learn more about the bog and those that call it home.

My hope is that the spotlight will continue to shine brightly on Kathy’s creation . . . made with love in honor of her bog.

The Magic of Maine

Our group was small but our experience enormous as five Maine Master Naturalists met in China, Maine, this morning to participate in a workshop about experiential learning presented by one of our own–the teacher of teachers, Anita Smith.

c-osprey 1

Upon arrival at the China School Forest where we met up, our nature distraction disorder (NDD) immediately kicked in for there was an osprey nest on a light post overlooking the ballfield between the middle and primary schools. The forest is a 50-acre tract behind the primary school that serves as a hands-on, outdoor classroom for grades K-8 and all of us really, for it is open to the public.

c-green heron 1

And then our attention was directed to the fire pond, where a stocky green heron displayed its streaked chest and dagger-like bill.

c-green heron crest

We watched him work the edge and loved when he showed off his crest–adding to our agreement about his ID.

c-trail map

At last, we pulled ourselves away and let Anita begin, starting with an overview of the forest’s history and a look at the map posted on the kiosk.

c-yellow rattle 1

We headed off down the trail to a pavilion, but again were easily distracted. This was a plant I didn’t recall meeting previously, but its bladders and yellow faces reminded me of  fish faces. Karen later ID it as yellow rattle for when the seeds form in the bladders later in the season, they rattle.

c-lady's galore

At last we arrived at the pavilion (only a few minutes walk down the trail if one wears blinders) where Anita had us help set up a work station and explained how she has students help cart the supplies. We started to help her, but within seconds Sally spotted the lady’s slippers and again we were distracted.

c-lady's by the dozens

They were so plentiful that we couldn’t resist admiring them.

c-pink lady's slipper

Most were princess pink.

c-white lady's slipper

But a few were pure white (not rare, just a form of the pink, but still . . . ).

c-lady's slipper pod

And even others spoke of transformation, with last year’s pods still standing.

c-nature journal

Again, she pulled us back to the subject of the day. Because we were there to learn about activities we might use in our work with children of all ages, Anita had us create our own nature journals. Stamps and markers and pipe cleaners and solar beads and fabric and we were happy campers–each expressing our own creativity in designing the covers.

c-phoebe babes1

While we worked, baby phoebes watched from above.

c-damselfly nymph1

Our next stop was the wildlife pond and bridge, where we did some pond dipping and were thrilled with our many findings, like damselfly larvae and tadpoles,

c-caddisfly larva and salamander

damselfly and salamander larvae,

c-water scavenger beetle larva and salamander larva

and water scavenger beetle larvae beside a salamander. There was so much more and we again had a difficult time pulling ourselves away.

c-examining aquatic species

It was the water scavenger beetle larvae that stumped us most, but we had fun identifying as many species as we could and were wowed by the variety available.

c-bird nest

Leave we did at last–only first we checked out a nest Sally had discovered. While it sat upon balsam fir branches, we thought it had fallen from above. And marveled at its construction–balsam fir twigs, fruticose lichen and balsam fir needles, all in their own layers.

c-twin flower

There were other things to see before we moved on, like the delicate twinflowers that bloomed.

c-pondweed and raindrops

An artistic display of pondweed.

c-fragrant water lily

And spadderdock,

c-fragrant water lily 2

whose flower reminded me of the inner formation of pitcher plant flowers.

c-Anita reading to us

At last, lunch time arrived. And so we returned to the pavilion where Anita shared some of her favorite books. And then she read to us All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan–warning us first that she would cry when she got to the end. Indeed she did, but we were touched for we got it.

c-board feet

After lunch, she took us on a tour to visit some of the seventeen learning stations, including the forest measurements station, where students learn about common measurements related to the forest and wood product industry, including board feet for dimensional lumber.

c-reading tree

Every time I visit the China School Forest, I’m in awe. And today, I knew others, like Kathy and Cathy, felt the same. The forest was full of diverse species and twenty years ago the Town of China and folks like Anita turned it into an incredible space for children and the child in all of us to learn. My favorite spot of all has been “the reading tree” built around a weeviled white pine. Even those in wheelchairs may access it and find a spot to read or watch or listen. After we climbed up, we climbed down, and Anita led us through several fun activities, the last ending with M&Ms. What’s not to love about a seminar that ends with chocolate?

c-Eastern forktail damselfly

On our walk back, our NDD was ever on alert. And so we’d not seen too many dragon or damselflies in the morning, perhaps given the cooler temp. But on our way out, an Eastern forktail damselfly drew our admiration for its green, black and blue coloration.

c-bridge classroom

We were beside the man-made pond when we saw it, where the bridge crosses and where we’d earlier done some pond dipping to observe the aquatic insects. It’s there that a bench sits in the midst of an outdoor classroom.

c-dedicated to Anita Smith

That very bench had been dedicated to our Anita.

c-baby robin 2

Back at the pavilion, we gathered all our gear and then followed the trail out. And that’s when Kathy called from ahead, telling us to watch our step. A baby robin sat on the path. We heard a parent nearby.

And wondered in the magic of the day. Another magical day in Maine.

 

 

 

 

Keeping an Eye on Long Meadow Brook

My intention yesterday afternoon was to focus on the plants and trees at the Greater Lovell Land Trust’s newest reserve, Long Meadow Brook. But I also wanted to check out the new parking area created as part of an Eagle Scout project by Bridgton’s Troop 149.

l-parking lot 2

While the logging road cut by the previous owner to the landing during a 2014 thinning was untouched for the creation of the parking area, some of the log landing (staging area to remove logs from the site) was used to create a smooth space for vehicles. Kudos to the Scouts and other volunteers for building the lot.

l-kiosk 2

To the left of the parking area stands a kiosk. If you go, please note that the trail was first tagged last summer and though trail work was done this week, it’s brand new and not yet well tramped.

l-sloppy trail marker

Your best bet is to keep an eye on the trail signs. Most are blue circles painted on a white background and nailed to the trees. But . . . at least one offered a more creative take as it appeared someone was thinking outside the lines. 😉

l-coltsfoot

So yes, I went to make an initial inventory and began on the driveway to the parking lot, where the blossoms of coltsfoot have now turned to seed. Remains of the former flower continued to exist among the white fluff of the seeds’ parachutes.

l-dandelion seed head

In the same place grew dandelions, providing a comparison as their seed heads were fancier in form.

l-common mullein rosette

It was on the driveway also, that common mullein showed off its soft leaves as it grew among the equisetum or horsetail.

l-common mullein

One in particular was ready to spring forth with new life.

l-common mullein--cacti

Though there were examples of last year’s mullein flowers along the driveway, it was on the trail that I spied a group of them, looking much like the cacti of the north.

l-equisetum 1

There were other look alikes to note–this being a woodland horsetail that can be mistaken for a pine sapling.

l-pine sapling

Both have whorled branching, but pine featured packets of five straight needles , while the horsetail branches were divided and dangling.

l-spittlebug

A spittlebug larva took advantage of one pine sapling and covered itself with froth to keep predators away.

l-pine grove 1

White pine saplings are numerous on this 98-acre property, where the former owner left many older pines that create a cathedral-like space.

l-pitch pine

One of my favorite species were the pitch pines, though this one appeared to have been used perhaps as a turning tree, with its bark on one side scraped off.

l-common speedwell

At my feet, I also found common speedwell,

l-cinquefoil 1

common cinquefoil,

l-pipsissewa

and pipsissewa–though not common, not un-common either.

l-wintergreen sporting new growth

There was wintergreen showing off its new growth with tiny blossoms forming between light green leaves,

l-red trillium

and a red trillium, its flower passed by and fruit production in the works.

l-lowbush blueberries

Speaking of fruit, lowbush blueberries were loaded with future treats.

l-Indian Cucumber Root

And then there were those species that feature other-worldy presentations such as the Indian cucumber root.

l-greater bladder sedge

Likewise, the great bladder sedge with its fruit sacs pointed up and out.

l-wood fern with sori

A variety of ferns grow there, including wood ferns with sori maturing on the underside of the blades.

l-striped maple leaf

I found a small striped maple with leaves as big as a dinner plate.

l-maple-leaved viburnum

And multiple maple-leaved viburnums in flower, this one with . . .

l-beetles canoodling on maple-leaved viburnum-2

beetles canoodling. 😉

l-oak apple gall

Because I was looking down so much, and no walk is compete without such a find, I saw an oak apple gall.

l-snowshoe hare scat 2

And similar in shape for its round form, snowshoe hare scat.

l-bench view

On the preserve are two small clearcuts. A bench has been installed at the two-acre lot.

l-wildlife blind

This is also the spot where a wildlife blind provides its own point of view.

l-field view

The six-acre opening faces the Baldface Mountains to the west.

l-Long Meadow

But my favorite view was at the old beaver dam, where Long Meadow Brook passes through. I wanted to spend more time there because there was much to see and ID, but the mosquitoes thought I was sweet.

l-chalk-fronted corporal

Fortunately, there were plenty of dragonflies, such as this chalk-fronted corporal, who thought the mosquitoes were sweet.

l-chalk-fronted female

That’s not all chalk-fronted liked, for this was his female counterpart.

l-lancet clubtail 1

Long Meadow Brook is the perfect place to meet some dragonflies, including the lancet club tail with yellow daggers running down the back of its abdomen.

l-eye to eye with dragonfly--white-face?

And a white face-so named for the whitish face below the bulging eyes.

l-stream cruiser

Hanging vertically as was its custom, a stream cruiser.

l-familiar bluet

Damselflies, too, flew about, including familiar bluets.

l-sedge sprite

But it was the metallic green of the sedge sprite that wowed me.

l-calico dragonfly 1

And when I thought I’d seen all that the land had to offer, I suddenly found myself in the place of the calico pennants.

l-calico 3

Its their wings that amazed me the most and made me think of stained glass windows.

l-calico 2

I happened upon them just before I passed back through the cathedral in the pines, as seems apropos.

While they focused on the abundant prey and each other to do their own canoodling (my guy and I heard that term mentioned recently and it made us chuckle), I had to finally pull my attention away. But . . . I’ll be keeping my eye on Long Meadow Brook Reserve. With pleasure.